Reviews

March 22, 2013

Stars Are Just Like Us: On Christine Sneed and Celebrity Disparity 2

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As readers, we’ve become so jaded, so used to seeing celebrities crash and burn, perhaps even delighted to watch them crash and burn, that when they engage in something as unexceptional as adultery, we hardly care.

March 21, 2013

In the Wake of Speedboat: On Renata Adler’s 1976 Novel 2

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Scrolling through news bits and status updates between passages of Speedboat, I’m floored by how the novel reads as a somewhat verbose Twitter feed. That is, verbose for Twitter. Succinct for anything else.

March 21, 2013

Lives within Lives within Lives: Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives 2

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There is, it seems, no end to the lives of Aleksandar Hemon.

March 20, 2013

The Navigation of Birds and the Balance of Cats : On Jessica Francis Kane’s This Close 1

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This Close is about the way the people evolve over time; the numerous faces any individual wears over the course of his or her life, and the near-impossibility of truly knowing anyone.

March 19, 2013

Lost in the Land of Self-Help: Mohsin Hamid’s How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 0

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Hamid’s flawed but beautifully written new novel follows the trajectory of a self-made man in an unnamed country.

March 12, 2013

Who Are We Without Our Stories? Jonathan Dee’s A Thousand Pardons 3

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The first twenty pages has the feel of a cable TV pilot, not the opening chapter of a literary novel. I even cast it in my mind, and became half-convinced that if I could just get Alison Janney to commit to play Helen, I could have it on HBO in time for the fall season.

March 7, 2013

One Woman’s Place in Time: Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then 3

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We use time-lapse photography to witness the things we can’t see in real time — the blooming of a flower or a tree coming into leaf. Kincaid uses the form of the novel to illustrate the things that Mrs. Sweet could not see in her own life, flipping through the ordinary moments that make up Mrs. Sweet’s mostly sweet existence to reveal the larger story: that of a disintegrating marriage.

March 7, 2013

Like a Woman Scorned: On James Lasdun’s Give Me Everything You Have 33

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In order to paint Nasreen as a mad woman with a powerful grudge, Lasdun takes an unnecessarily dry and impersonal tone, using supplementary texts on the nature of obsession to further his case. As he goes into his analysis, painting Nasreen as a stalker and himself as a heroic naïf, the more he starts to sound like Humbert Humbert, more complicit than innocent, more culpable than defensible.

March 4, 2013

Ordinary People: Jim Gavin’s Middle Men 0

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The central concern of his collection is the tension between the ordinary life and the extraordinary. All of Gavin’s protagonists are rooted in the former. “I’m going to Cypress Junior College,” someone says in “Play the Man.” “My step-mom went there, so I’m a legacy.”

February 22, 2013

Drinking at the End of the World: Lars Iyer’s Exodus 5

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Enduring the everyday is relatively straightforward — just keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other — but how to transcend the everyday, in this world neither you nor I have made?